Ah, the Globe. One of my favourite ever theatres; as I’m sure you’ve realised by now I do have a fondness for ol’ Billy Shakes, but I think the Globe has an energy and an atmosphere unlike any other theatre in London (possibly the world). Also £5 standing tickets are the best views in the house and LITERALLY CHEAPER THAN THE PROGRAMME COST FOR BC’S HAMLET.
I always think of Twelfth Night as AYLI’s evil twin – sure, you’ve got cross-dressing, mistaken identity, but then Shakespeare goes and throws in some mental torture for good measure. Globe Education run the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project every year, producing 90-100 minute versions of Shakespeare plays aimed at secondary school age children. During the week they put on performances for students, either for free or at subsidised rates, and on Saturdays there are family matinees open to the general public. Their Othello last year was excellent, so I was really looking forward to TN – last year’s show had opened with explosions and zip lines, so I knew I was in for a proper spectacle. I was not disappointed.
Firstly, the set is brilliant. Rusting metal and barnacles sprawl along the usually red-gold facade, and all the actors use the Globe’s unique space really well. Upon first entering the theatre members of the cast stroll among the groundlings (Elizabethan lingo for the standing tickets), singing and chatting to people in the crowd, which generates a really warm atmosphere, despite the freezing temperatures – outdoor theatre in February/ March is always going to incur risks of frostbite – and set the tone for the rest of the performance.
I haven’t laughed so much at a play for ages. Dickon Tyrell’s Toby Belch lives up to his name from the ouset, and Alex Mugnaioni’s Malvolio is perfect – the yellow stockings moment is everything you could ever want it to be – but it is Tom Davey’s Andrew Aguecheek who steals the show, comedy-wise. There are several dance and music numbers that will live in my memory forever, and Bill Buckhust, as well as making the darker or more tender moments of the play accessible, has made some totally new directing choices (or new to me, anyway); keep an eye out for Davey’s hair, not that you could really miss it.
At £5 to stand, it is incredible value – just make sure to wrap up warm! The play is accessible without ever feeling patronising or preachy, One feels that any teenager going to see such a production would come away with the notion that Shakespeare is definitely not boring and that theatre is definitely a lot of fun. Because if there is any single word to describe this production, it is fun.
I will definitely be back at the Globe later in the year when the main theatre season opens (23rd April-mid October), but at the moment this is one of the few ways to see a Shakespeare production on the Globe stage.
All photos Cesare De Giglio and Ellie Kurtz via Shakespeare’s Globe blog.